Thursday, February 21, 2008


Origins of Antiscience

A thought:

From the beginning, the core of individuals who built the ID movement was concerned with the materialist focus of American society and of science, which they associate with materialism. For example, science explains events and observations through natural causes; the principle of methodological materialism rules out appeals to divine cause in science. Methodological materialism is distinct from philosophical materialism -- the belief that matter, energy, and their interactions comprise the universe; no gods or supernatural powers exist. But ID proponents claim that methodological materialism is merely a front for philosophical materialism; they see a slippery slope between the former and the latter. ...

ID's antimaterialism leads its proponents to propose radical changes in how science is done. In 1984, the authors of The Mystery of Life's Origin [Charles B. Thaxton. Walter L. Bradley and Roger L. Olsen] distinguished between regular (or "operational science") and a supposedly different kind of science, "origin science," which requires or at least permits an alternate sort of scientific methodology. Like future ID proponents, the authors attributed historical and biological events to "intelligence," where the "intelligence" was understood as operating supernaturally. Origin science is defined as the science used to explain singular, unrepeatable events (the origin of life, for example), which supposedly are untestable and thus outside of science. Therefore, attribution of causality to God is acceptable in "origin science," but not in "operation science."

The abandonment of methodological materialism in science was also championed by creation-science advocates; it appeared only three years later in a book by two young-earth creationists, Norman L. Geisler and J. Kerby Anderson [Origin Science, 1987], with a foreword by Waiter L. Bradley. Geisler obliquely claimed precedent for the distinction between "operation science" and "origin science" (which he called "science of origin") in an obscure 1983 publication, but in general, both ID and creation-science proponents cite Thaxton and others as the source of the distinction. Of Pandas and People in 1993, included a "Note to Teachers" by Mark Hartwig and Stephen Meyer in which they similarly distinguished "inductive sciences" and "historical sciences" and defended the idea of broadening science to include "intelligence" as a cause.

Other ID proponents have encouraged "theistic science" [Alvin Plantinga, 1991. "When faith and reason clash: Evolution and the Bible"] as a way of broadening science beyond methodological materialism. The argument is made that if we "arbitrarily" limit science to only natural cause, we may miss the true explanation -- which is direct or indirect supernatural design. [J.P. Moreland, in "Is Science a Threat or Help to Faith?"] has proposed that the essence of theistic science is

... a commitment to the belief that God, conceived of as a personal agent with great power and intelligence, has through direct, primary causation and indirect, secondary causation created and designed the world for a purpose. He has directly intervened in the course of its development at various points (for example, in directly creating the universe, first life, the basic kinds of life, and humans). And these kinds of ideas can enter into the very fabric of scientific practice.
[T]he abandonment of methodological materialism in science is part of the strategy of reviving a theistic -- in particular, a conservative Christian -- understanding of the world and humanity's place in it.

- Eugenie C. Scott, "Creation Science Lite: 'Intelligent Design' as the New Anti-Evolutionism," Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond, Andrew J. Petto and Laurie R. Godfrey, eds., 2007


Origin Science and Theistic Science, eh? What a load of codswallop! Gould's NOMA isn't good enough for these twerps - they want it all! Just as it was in the good old days of superstition, inquisition, hellfire and brimstone.

No, thank you. I've already ingested and regurgitated my share of what the twerps are offering.
I don't have any particular objection to them trying to cobble together a theology that deals, in one way or another, with the results of science -- after all, that's what "theistic evolutionists" like Ken Miller do -- as long as they clealy label it as theology. The vacuity of "Theistic Science" is something the believers will have to deal with. "Origin Science," on the other hand, is a dishonest attempt to convince the unwary that their theology can somehow magically be transformed into science.
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